VWSD aims for healthy, tasty lunches

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ensuring students get a healthy, well-balanced meal in school not only helps their bodies, but it helps their education.

“You can’t teach a hungry child,” said Laura Bounds, child nutrition director of the Vicksburg Warren School District. “If they have those nutrients, vitamins and well-based meals at breakfast and lunch they are more opted to learn better throughout each and everyday, which in turn helps them raise their test scores in the long run.”

Bounds has been working with school nutrition for more than five years and knows the important relationship between learning and nutrition.

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Vicksburg Warren School District’s Child Nutrition Program is a federally funded lunch program, which follows nutrition guidelines laid out by the Department of Agriculture.

The district also has a community eligibility program where all students in grades Pre K-8 are offered school meals at no cost. Students are required to select a half-cup of fruit with breakfast meals and anything sold in schools must meet USDA requirements.

However, students in high school must fill out the Free and Reduced Lunch Application.

“We have to provide a certain amount of green, leafy vegetables; low carbohydrates on some of the vegetables; a certain amount of calorie contents due to age or grade requirements; sodium is a big one that we’re having to meet the requirements in; and whole grains,” Bounds said.

When the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010 went into effect, it slowly required there to be an increase in awareness of sodium levels among grade levels.

For the most part, USDA guidelines provide a healthy balanced meal for students.

“With those guidelines that have been passed down from USDA, they try and keep us balanced through out the week,” Bounds said. “We meet a certain guideline as far as protein and grains go everyday. The area of the vegetables where it plays between the red and orange group, and the dark green leafy vegetables, we have a little more wiggle room through the week.”

There are specific guidelines from the USDA and Mississippi Department of Education for students with special dietary needs.

Parents and students need to fill out a form at the school district and makes sure their respective school nurse has a copy. The VWSD will sit down and try to go in-depth with the parent about the dietary needs of a student.

Bounds is on the board for the Mississippi Recipes for Success and has help develop new and creative recipes, which fit within USDA guidelines.

Last year she developed a chicken Alfredo recipe from scratch, which evolved into Stromboli. This past week Bounds has made Mandarin chicken, which she said the students really loved it.

“We kind of take those recipes and continue to evolve them into recipes we know our students will enjoy,” Bounds said. “To me it is a passion and all of my employees have a passion for feeding the students of the Vicksburg Warren School District.”